Smoky Mountains
Jason Crow

Chapter 6 – Shelter
Day 2.

“What are they talking about, Uncle Adam?” Ellie asked with a worried look on her face.

“I don’t know. I assume it’s got something to do with the President’s speech.”

“Ah. Okay. I missed that. It was about that hole in Brazil, right?”

“Yeah. It didn’t look too good, according to Uncle Robert,” I said as I kept glancing at the office where Robert and Colonel Parker were talking.

“Here you go, Uncle Adam,” Ryan said as he set a mug of coffee in front of me.

“Thanks, sport! That’s very kind of you!” I smiled and tousled his hair.

“We’re not going to the movies anymore, are we?” Ryan asked.

“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry,” I said, looking at his disappointed face.

We were currently sitting at our kitchen counter and were looking at CNN on the television. Ellie was fixed on her phone and didn’t seem interested anymore. There wasn’t any real news, but the big hole kept everyone busy. That much was clear. Ryan practically never left my side this morning and was now looking at the TV with me. He did look bored.

“Why don’t you go to your room and play with your new toy?” I asked and winked at him.

His face lit up, and he looked at me with a wicked grin on his face. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then he winked back and got up from his stool. As he made his way to the door, the office door opened, and Robert walked out, looking concerned. Ryan immediately turned around and sat back at the counter, looking expectantly at Robert.

“Can you please help me pack my bags, Adam?” he asked. “It seems I’m needed at the army base, and I’ll probably be gone for a few days.”

The look on his face told a completely different story. I’ve never seen him this worried before. It scared the shit out of me, that’s for sure. We walked to our bedroom, and I noticed that Colonel Parker followed us. I looked at Robert to check if I could see what he thought of that, and he just nodded and walked on. This wasn’t the first time Robert was approached by the army, and all the previous times, it was pretty much the same. He couldn’t talk about it, and I just had to accept the fact this happened.

“Can you hand me the weekend bag, please, Adam?” Robert asked as he opened the closet.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I said, handing him the bag.

“I’m not allowed to tell you what this is all about. You know how it goes in my job with confidentiality,” he said and twisted his head and rolled his eyes to point out the colonel was listening.

“I do. I shouldn’t have asked, but I’m a bit worried. Any idea how long you’ll be gone?” I said, but with my eyes and my mouth, I made it clear to him I was worried sick about the situation.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before you know it. Do you think I should take my winter coat with me?”

Robert asked me this while holding out his coat in front of him. This blocked the view from the hallway. He pointed to his jacket’s collar behind his coat with a very intense look on his face. I didn’t know for sure but considering this was the oldest coat he had and the fact that he put on such a show made me think there was something hidden in there.

“Nah. I don’t think so. Maybe your other coat will be better,” I responded as casually as I could.

“I think you’re right,” Robert said and hung his coat back inside the closet.

“Are you almost done, Dr. Wilkes?” Colonel Parker asked.

“Yeah. We’re done,” Robert said as he zipped up the weekend bag.

We walked out of the bedroom and back to the kitchen. Both Ryan and Ellie were looking anxious at Robert.

“I’ll be gone for a few days, kids. Uncle Adam will stay here and look after you. Please behave, you two,” Robert said, and I could see some tears welling up in his eyes.

Ryan and Ellie came over to hug him.

“Are you going with the chopper?” Ryan asked curiously, not having a clue about how tight the situation was.

“Yeah, Ryan, I am,” Robert laughed and kissed Ryan on his forehead.

“I wish I could come too,” Ryan said.

“Next time, kiddo. I promise,” Robert said and walked to the chopper behind Colonel Parker.

“Get to the choppah,” I heard Ryan say behind me with a thick Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.

That caused all three of us to chuckle. As we approached the chopper, Robert stopped and turned around. He looked me in my eyes and gave me a tight hug.

“Remember our first date,” he whispered in my ear as I hugged him back tightly.

We broke our hug as the chopper’s blades started spinning faster and faster, indicating it was about to leave. We gave each other a firm kiss and one last hug. I had not a clue what he meant by our first date but figured I’d find out soon.

“I love you, Adam,” Robert said, looking me in my eyes. “Take good care of yourself and the kids.”

“I love you too. Do the best you can out there, and don’t worry about us.”

And that was it. He teared up, which made me tear up too, and he turned around to get in the chopper. With a loud roar and a lot of wind, which caused me to quickly walk back to the kids, the helicopter took off. We saw Robert sitting by the window with his headphones on, waving at us. We waved back, and the moment the chopper was out of sight, we walked back into the house.

“So… What do we do now, Uncle Adam,” Ellie asked.

“Well. I need to figure out what’s going on first. You can watch some Netflix or something if you like. The moment I know what’s going on, we’ll talk about it. Okay?”

“Okay. I guess,” was Ellie’s blasé reply.

“I’ll be in my office if you need me,” I said to them and walked off.

“I’m going to my room,” Ryan quickly said and practically ran to his room.

I couldn’t suppress a giggle at this. It was clear what he was up to. Good for him! I opened the closet in our room, took Robert’s old winter coat, and went to my office. I laid the coat down on my desk and started feeling around the collar. I didn’t feel anything special at first, but I felt a hard piece of… well, something after a few tries. I took my scissors and started peeling away parts of the collar. It took me a while, but eventually, I held what looked like a small USB thumb drive in my hand.

I booted my laptop and plugged in the thumb drive. The explorer window opened, and there were about a thousand folders on it. All folders had a four-digit number. I opened a few, but they were all empty. I remembered Robert’s mention of our first date, which was on a beautiful September day, about eight years ago. The twenty-second, to be exact. So I searched for the folder named 0922, but that didn’t exist. The European way, maybe? But 2209 didn’t exist either. But then I remembered we talked a lot about the year 1999. Robert’s mom died that year, which had hit him hard. I lost my brother that year, which caused both of us to lead a very reckless and promiscuous lifestyle. The second half of that year was pretty much a blur, with new year’s eve as a culmination of it all. We both pretty much hit rock-bottom the following January. Not the usual small talk for a first date, but it did create some sort of bond between us in a powerful way.

So I opened the 1999 folder on the stick, and in it was a .docx document and a .mp4 movie clip. I opened the movie file, and immediately there was a prompt asking for a four-digit pin-code. I entered 0922, and the file opened. I saw Robert sitting behind his desk, looking into the camera. He held a PharmaCorp pen in hand, which must mean this was dated no longer than three years ago. Three years ago, the company Robert worked for merged with the bigger PharmaCorp company. Thanks to this merger, Robert made a big promotion. He was given Ben’s job. Ben was the original owner, and he would retire a year after the merger. After this switch, Robert basically ran the original company under the PharmaCorp wings.

“Hi, Adam. When you see this, this means something dramatic has happened or is about to happen. Listen very carefully, because what I’m about to say can save your life and put me in jail if the government finds out. When you watch this, it also means that I’m not able to help you, Maybe I’m dead, and you’re crying your eyes out right now. I don’t know, but please, Adam. Listen to what I’m about to say.”

Okay. This is interesting. Why did he record this stuff?

“About three years ago, right after the merger, we signed a contract with the government. This resulted in close collaboration with a shady branch of the military. We created all sorts of helpful vaccines and enhancers for them. You know, stronger muscles, better focus, no flu. That sort of stuff. This means I’m a potential target for some of the foreign intelligence agencies. Again, I don’t know what happened, but maybe this can give you a bit of background to what happened. Of course, I’m not allowed to talk about this, so please destroy this thumb drive as soon as you can. After a few years in this job, it became clear to me that maybe I needed to create some safe haven for us to go to in case of an emergency. Ben, the founder of PharmaCorp, thought about this too when he built this house. He once told me about all the bells and whistles of this house, which you’ll soon learn about too. Ben was my mentor from the moment I started here, and he liked me a lot. That’s the reason why he left me this house. I wasn’t allowed to tell you this either, but it’s ours. It isn’t provided by PharmaCorp. I inherited it.”

I could see him tearing up when he talked about Ben. He’d always been close to him, and he was devastated for weeks after Ben’s death.

“Anyway,” Robert continued after drinking some water. “Ben was a prepper with a lot of money. Because of all the stuff he saw working so closely with the military, he wanted to make sure he’d live in case of a global catastrophe. At the back of our lawn, near the start of the forest, there’s an entry to an underground shelter. And don’t worry about feeling cramped. It’s bigger than our house, and it’s completely self-containing. The power for the shelter is generated by the solar panels and the wind turbines outside. There is also a separate system for air freshening. Even in the event of an atomic bomb, the air is still breathable. Some of Its tech comes straight from SpaceX. The entire facility can run almost four hundred years without the need of anybody going in or out of it. The simple fact that you’re currently watching this means that you need to get in there as soon as possible!”

Robert looked sternly into the camera, and I could sense the urgency in his voice and body.

“In the same folder as this video, there is a Word document. In it is the entrance procedure. It isn’t complicated, but you need to make sure you do everything in the right order, and you’re good to go. The password of this file is your birthday. That’s it. Please gather some clothes and get the hell over there. Please! And Adam?”

I felt the need to answer him, despite the fact that I was watching a recording.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. But I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. I never loved anyone as much as you! You made me whole, Adam. And I’ll never forget that. Remember this. Take care, honey!”

A tear formed in the corner of his eye as he clicked off the camera. I don’t know how long ago he recorded this, but according to the date of the .mp4 file, it was over a year ago. Did he know something already back then, or was this just a coincidence? I opened the Word file, entered my birthday, and scrolled through it. It was only one page long and described how to get in. It also stated that the detailed operating procedures were located inside the shelter. After I remembered the codes and procedure, I slid the thumb drive into my pocket.

I gathered some clothes, towels, shower and shaving stuff and threw it all in a duffle bag. I dropped the bag on my bed and quickly walked over to Ryan’s room to do the same with his stuff. I knocked on his door.

“Ryan?” I asked and heard some ruffling.

The door opened, and before me stood Ryan in all his glory. He was as naked as the day he was born, and his erection was proudly sticking out.

“Hi,” he giggled. “I was playing with my new toy. Wanna join me?”

As tempted as I was, besides the fact that my dick was telling me to join him, I declined.

“Sorry, sport. You need to get dressed. Now. And we need to make you an overnight bag,” I said as I entered his room.

“Why’s that?” Ryan asked, not making a move to get dressed or cover himself.

“Uncle Robert made it clear that we need to leave the house,” I said as I threw some of Ryan’s clothes into his suitcase.

I looked over at Ryan and couldn’t help but notice his softening dick. I tried to ignore it and looked into his eyes.

“Look, sport. Uncle Robert believes that maybe something bad is about to happen. Apparently, we have some sort of fallout shelter in our yard, and we’re going there now. We’ll talk about this when we’re in there, okay?”

“Okay. If you say so,” he said and suddenly seemed scared.

“I don’t think anything will happen, okay? I’m sure it’s just a precaution,” I said, kneeling in front of him and hugging him.

I couldn’t help myself and let my hands rest on his naked butt for a minute. I felt him relax in my arms as we hugged. I kissed him on his forehead and broke the hug. I got up and left the room.

“Get dressed, okay?” I said, looking over my shoulder.

“Sure. Be done in a sec,” Ryan said as he gathered his clothes.

“ELLIE!” I yelled.

“WHAT!?” Ellie shouted back from the kitchen.

“Can you get over here, please?”

A few moments later, Ellie came around the corner and glanced at her brother. I looked too and saw he’d just pulled up his underwear. I don’t know what she thought, but she didn’t let on anything. I talked her through the same stuff as I did with Ryan. Before we knew it, we all had our bags and were wearing our coats. I made sure all the lights were off, and as we left the front door, I enabled the alarm. We walked over to the spot I memorized and looked for that particular branch.

“Are you sure this is the right spot?” Ellie asked.

“I am. Let me see,” I responded, desperately looking for the branch.

The moment I found it, I twisted it in a series of back and forward motions. After this was done, there was a loud click, and a piece of the tree opened up. Inside there was a keypad with a small display above it. I entered the eight-digit number and pressed the pound key. The ground started shaking a bit, and next to the tree, the ground came up slowly. We each looked at each other as this elevator-like cube came out of the earth. It reminded me of something I saw on Westworld.

After a few moments, the elevator was completely up, and the door opened to the inside. There was enough room in it for the three of us, so after I closed the panel on the tree, we stepped inside. There were two buttons inside. I pressed the ‘zero’ button because the ‘one’ button was currently illuminated. The door closed, and down we went.

End of Chapter six

Copyright 2021 – Jason Crow
All rights reserved

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